Dress stores are featuring blue and white all week. One
make-up company is even promoting blue eye shadow and blue nail
polish. Flags are flying on and buildings and cars. Every street
corner offers stacks of barbecue equipment for sale.
We have every reason to indulge in blue and white and celebrate For
the first generation in 2000 years, we have a homeland. The shadow of Yom
Hashoah reminds us of the perils of statelessness. Heartbreaking
Memorial Day ceremonies remind us of how hard defending Israel and the
Jewish people is. Our Prime Minister lost his brother. So did the acting
Director General of Hadassah Medical Center Yuval Weiss. Last night,
speaking at the Kotel, President Shimon Peres stressed that it's
impossible to grasp the depth of pain of our many bereaved families.
Today, memorial prayers give way to the refrain of Hallel: This is the
day that God created to rejoice and be gladdened.
I want to share the story of one Hadassah physician soldier..Remember,
please, that in addition to fulfilling their challenging roles in the hospital,
many of our doctor and nurses continue to play important roles
in the IDF. They don't get extra pay for this. They take on danger
and discomfort out of commitment and idealism.
Please meet Dr. Tomer Tzur, a senior physician in the plastic
Helicopters often bring patients, both soldier and civilians, to
Hadassah Hospital. But sometimes the beating of helicopter blades
outside the hospital means that a pilot has been dispatched to get
Dr. Tomer Tzur. When there is a national crisis, the IDF comes to get him.
He's been at Hadassah for the last 13 years. At Hadassah, Dr. Tzur has
learned his skills of a surgeon and then specialized in reconstructive
surgery. His 12-hour daily hospital routine includes running the
world's largest skin bank at our Ein Kerem campus, repairing limb
function and the appearance of burns victims, and carrying out
reconstruction after mastectomies.
In addition, he's a member of the Israel's elite commando unit. He
began as a commando, and later, when he completed medical school,
he became a commando physician. At 43, he's still doing combat duty. He's
still the trim athlete who was Israel's champion 400-meter runner
when he was a youngster growing up in Haifa, and who had a stint
as a professional dancer in the Batsheva Compan. His father was
born in Italy, his mother in Romania, and he speaks both of their
native languages, as well as Hebrew, Arabic, English, French and
German. This is an asset at the hospital, and also on foreign
Dr. Tzur has witnessed the aftermath of some of the country's worst
moments: the 1997 helicopter crash when 73 soldiers were killed, and
an ambush of Israel's version of the Navy seals the same year. He
has taken part in secret operations "like Entebbe, but not Entebbe"
in which Israelis and Jews have been rescued in Israel and on foreign
shores. Sometimes, he commands infantry units to lead them into
battle. His military service adds up to two months every year.
each assignment, he returns to the hospital to check on his patients,
to make sure there is enough skin for patients all over the country,
or to advise other countries-recently South Africa-on how to follow
the Hadassah model of storing skin. Like all doctors and nurses at
Hadassah, his patients are a mix of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and
Palestinians, and the many foreigners who seek medical care here.
He was drawn to Hadassah by Dr. Arieh Eldad, who was at the time
leaving his position as the Chief military physician to head the Department of
Plastic Surgery at Hadassah. "I believe that most of the people in
this region would like to have peace," says Dr. Tzur, who says he's
politically "more left than right." "But because they don't live in
fully democratic countries, they can't express these priorities. I
know that what I do in the IDF is still very important. In the
field and in the hospital, I've taken part in a military action,
and then treated the terrorists we captured. That's part of my
life. "As we reach our 65th birthday as a nation, I hope we will be
able to address the economic gaps and social issues in our society,
and not have to focus so much energy on defense."
We salute you, Dr. Tzur and all of our staff in all of our
A Word on the Flashwaltz
As Hadassah's Flashwaltz continues to expand virally on the web,
(352,000 at last check) we had a chance to chat with Anna Shapira of
the Jerusalem Academy of Music who first came up with the idea of
performing for Good Deeds Day. This young Russian-born woman is in
charge of student programs at the Academy. "My favorite part of the
whole experience was going to Mount Scopus the following day.
an assortment of instruments, we performed in the halls and the
wards. One patient in a wheelchair begged us to wait, then went to
get his trumpet and then played with us."
We're already talking
about possible cooperation for next year. Shapira, a violinist
herself, also performs in the Young Musicians Orchestra of La Scala
in Milan, Italy. She's leaving for a month, hosted by a family in
the Jewish community there to perform in the prestigious Teatro
all Scala. There, she not only performs with a nearly all-Italian
orchestra, but serves as an unofficial ambassador of the State of
"Many musicians were cold to me at first because I am an
Israeli," said Shapira.' "But I have held my own, and let it be
known that I'm not only a musician, but that I served with pride
in the IDF."
Good luck, Anna. That's music to our ears!